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Libertarians Cheer New “Surveillance State Repeal Act”

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 12 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Two congressmen have introduced bold bipartisan legislation that will fully repeal the police-state 2001 U.S. PATRIOT Act and substantially roll back the U.S. surveillance state that has metastasized in recent years.

Repeal the Surveillance StateThe Surveillance State Repeal Act (H.R. 1466) was introduced on March 24 by Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Thomas Massie (R-KY), and it offers a great opportunity for Americans to restore lost liberty and privacy in one swoop.

“The warrantless collection of millions of personal communications from innocent Americans is a direct violation of our constitutional right to privacy,” said Rep. Pocan. “Revelations about the NSA’s programs reveal the extraordinary extent to which the program has invaded Americans’ privacy.

“I reject the notion that we must sacrifice liberty for security — we can live in a secure nation which also upholds a strong commitment to civil liberties. This legislation ends the NSA’s dragnet surveillance practices, while putting provisions in place to protect the privacy of American citizens through real and lasting change.”

“The Patriot Act contains many provisions that violate the Fourth Amendment and have led to a dramatic expansion of our domestic surveillance state,” said Rep. Massie. “Our Founding Fathers fought and died to stop the kind of warrantless spying and searches that the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act authorize. It is long past time to repeal the Patriot Act and reassert the constitutional rights of all Americans.”

Libertarians and other defenders of civil liberties have cheered the bill.

The Surveillance State Repeal Act will:

  1. Repeal the 2001 U.S. PATRIOT Act, which among other things contains the telephone metadata harvesting provision by which the NSA has justified collecting phone information on millions of Americans.
  2. Repeal the FISA Amendments Act (which contains the email harvesting provision), with the exception of the provisions regarding FISA court reporting and WMD intelligence collection.
  3. Protect whistleblowers: Make retaliation against federal national security whistleblowers illegal and provide for the termination of individuals who engage in such retaliation.
  4. Ensure that any FISA collection against a U.S. Person takes place only pursuant to a valid warrant based on probable cause (which was the original FISA standard from 1978 to 2001).
  5. Retain the ability for government surveillance capabilities to be targeted against a specific natural person, regardless of the type of communications method(s) or device(s) being used by the subject of the surveillance.
  6. Retain provisions in current law dealing with the acquisition of intelligence information involving weapons of mass destruction from entities not composed primarily of U.S. Persons.
  7. Prohibit the government from mandating that electronic device or software manufacturers build in so-called “back doors” to allow the government to bypass encryption or other privacy technology built into said hardware and/or software.
  8. Increase the terms of judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) from seven to ten years and allows their reappointment.
  9. Mandate that the FISC utilize technologically competent Special Masters (technical and legal experts) to help determine the veracity of government claims about privacy, minimization and collection capabilities employed by the U.S. government in FISA applications.
  10. Mandate that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) regularly monitor such domestic surveillance programs for compliance with the law, including responding to Member requests for investigations and whistleblower complaints of wrongdoing.
  11. Explicitly ban the use of Executive Order 12333 as a way of collecting bulk data, which pertains to the collection and storage of communications by U.S. Persons.

Make no mistake: The bill faces an uphill battle in Congress. FreedomWorks chair Matt Kibbe called upon its 6.9 million members to fight for the bill, and created a web page where supporters of the bill can easily email this message to their representatives.

Libertarian Party chair Nicholas Sarwark called on all Americans who love liberty to create a grassroots campaign to support the Surveillance State Repeal Act, to contact their congressmen and women and urge them to support H.R. 1466, and to spread this message through social media and whatever other means possible.

In fact, Sarwick’s only complaint was that the bill, sweeping though it is, doesn’t go far enough.

“The Libertarian Party would like to see all aspects of government mass surveillance ended, including complete elimination of the secret FISA court whose work issuing warrants for terrorist and criminal suspects can be easily assumed by existing federal courts,” said Sarwark. “But this bill is a good first step.”

They Said It… With David Simpson, Matthew Fogg, and More!

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the They Said It section in Volume 20, No. 11 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Matthew FoggFORMER DEA AGENT SAYS DRUG WAR IS AIMED AT POOR BLACKS: “What I began to see is that the Drug War is totally about race. If we were locking up everybody, white and black, for doing the same drugs, they would have done the same thing they did with Prohibition. They would have outlawed it. They would have said, ‘Let’s stop this craziness. You’re not putting my son in jail. My daughter isn’t going to jail.’” — Matthew Fogg, retired Chief Deputy U.S. Marshall and former DEA special agent, in  an interview with Brave New Films. Fogg says he and other agents were ordered by superiors not to enforce drug laws in prosperous white neighborhoods.

THE FOURTH AMENDMENT VS. THE NSA: “The Fourth Amendment… is the law of the land. And the NSA is violating its letter and spirit, no matter how many times its defenders use dubious legal reasoning to argue otherwise. The right of the people to be secure in their ‘persons, houses, papers, and effects’ is meaningless if the NSA can seize and later search details about everyone’s communications. The requirements for probable cause and particularity cannot be squared with surveillance that implicates practically everyone. The Fourth Amendment’s historic attempt to end general warrants cannot be viewed as a success so long as the government is prying into the private affairs of tens of millions of people who are not even suspected of any wrongdoing.” — journalist Conor Friedersdorf, “The Surveillance State’s Greatest Enemy? The U.S. Constitution,” The Atlantic, March 3, 2015.

ACTUALLY, IT’S A POLITICAL PROBLEM, TOO: “It’s not a political problem; it’s a math problem. … Everyone is looking at the model right now, asking how do we do math? Every [restaurant] operator I’m talking to is in panic mode, trying to figure out what the new world will look like.” — Anthony Anton, president and CEO of the Washington Restaurant Association, on the new difficulties restaurant owners face because of Seattle’s new $15 per hour minimum wage (i.e., tax on employers who hire workers). The law is expected to send labor costs skyrocketing, and is being blamed for a rash of restaurant closings. Quoted in “Why Are So Many Seattle Restaurants Closing Lately?” in Seattle magazine, March 4, 2015.

ZERO WAGES FOR SEATTLE’S NEW JOBLESS: “As the implementation date for Seattle’s strict $15 per hour minimum wage law approaches, the city is experiencing a rising trend in restaurant closures. The tough new law goes into effect April 1st. The closings have occurred across the city, from Grub in the upscale Queen Anne Hill neighborhood, to Little Uncle in gritty Pioneer Square, to the Boat Street Cafe on Western Avenue near the waterfront. The shut-downs have idled dozens of low-wage workers, the very people advocates say the wage law is supposed to help. Instead of delivering the promised ‘living wage’ of $15 an hour, economic realities created by the new law have dropped the hourly wage for these workers to zero.” — Paul Guppy, Washington Policy Center blog, “Seattle’s $15 wage law a factor in restaurant closings”

BEST RE-LEGALIZATION BILL EVER:

Representative David Simpson (R - Longview)“I am proposing that this plant [marijuana] be regulated like tomatoes, jalapenos or coffee. Current marijuana policies are not based on science or sound evidence, but rather misinformation and fear. All that God created is good, including marijuana. God did not make a mistake when he made marijuana that the government needs to fix. Let’s allow the plant to be utilized for good — helping people with seizures, treating warriors with PTSD, producing fiber and other products — or simply for beauty and enjoyment. Government prohibition should be for violent actions that harm your neighbor — not of the possession, cultivation, and responsible use of plants.” — Texas Republican state representative David Simpson, who describes himself as a “constitutional conservative,” explaining his marijuana re-legalization bill, KETK NBC TV, Tyler, Texas.

December 15: Celebrate Bill of Rights Day!

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 19, No. 23 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Bill of RightsA little-known but very important U.S. holiday is coming up — one far too many Americans are unaware of. It offers libertarians a great chance to inform Americans of our heritage of liberty and the urgent need today to defend that heritage.

December 15 is “Bill of Rights Day” — a day to celebrate, honor and renew support for our precious Bill of Rights.

It was on December 15, 1791 that the Bill of Rights  — the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution — went into effect.

One hundred and fifty years later, in 1941, December 15 was officially proclaimed Bill of Rights Day. States, cities, and counties across America have passed resolutions honoring Bill of Rights day. Some classrooms will hold special Bill of Rights Day classes, and some citizens and organizations will celebrate Bill of Rights Day.

Still, most Americans remain sadly unaware of the date’s significance.

The Bill of Rights is, of course, the great protector of American liberties. It boldly declares that people have certain inalienable rights that government cannot abridge — fundamental rights like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to keep and bear arms, and more. It also provides procedures for defending those rights — such as fair trials and limits on federal power.

The Bill of Rights doesn’t belong just to America. It has inspired freedom fighters around the world. The Founders viewed their Revolution as the first blow in a struggle to win liberty for all the people of the world. So the Bill of Rights is truly a document for everyone.

Thomas Jefferson made this clear in a letter to James Madison, December 20, 1787: “A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.”

Use Bill of Rights Day to teach family, friends, neighbors and others about our precious heritage.

It’s a great time for a letter to the editor discussing the vital importance of our Bill of Rights freedoms, and urging citizens to speak out against current calls to sacrifice liberty for (alleged) security.

With fundamental Bill of Rights freedom under unprecedented assault in recent years, this has never been more important.

To help with that, here’s a short summary of the Bill of Rights, prepared several years ago by students at Liberty Middle School in Ashley, Virginia. (I’ve added just a few words for clarification.) While this condensed version doesn’t have the majesty, depth and detail of the entire document, it is short and easy to understand, and may be useful to you in discussions and letters:

THE BILL OF RIGHTS

1. Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, right to assemble peaceably, right to petition the government about grievances.
2. Right to keep and bear arms.
3. Citizens do not have to quarter soldiers during peacetime.
4. No unreasonable searches and seizures.
5. Rights of the accused.
6. Right to a fair trial.
7. Right to a trial by jury in civil cases also.
8. No cruel and unusual punishments.
9. Unenumerated rights go to the people.
10. Reserves all powers not given to the national government to the states or
the people.

All Americans should be familiar with their Bill of Rights freedoms. Sadly, numerous surveys indicate most are not. Indeed, as journalist James Bovard has pointed out, a 1991 poll commissioned by the American Bar Association found only 33 percent of Americans surveyed even knew what the Bill of Rights was. In one Gallup poll 70 percent did not know what the First Amendment was or what it dealt with.

As Adam Summers of the Reason Foundation observed in The Libertarian Perspective:

“The Founders must be spinning in their graves. Nearly everything the government does today is unconstitutional under the system they instituted. Governmental powers were expressly limited; individual liberties were not. Now it seems it is the other way around.

“If the Bill of Rights is to regain its meaning, we must rededicate ourselves to the principles it asserts and be mindful that a government powerful enough to give us all we want is powerful enough to take away everything we have.”

Let it begin with you. This December 15 is a great time to remind all Americans that we are, as the National Constitution Center puts it, a nation of “Bill”-ionaires.
Happy Bill of Rights Day!

VIDEO: “Isn’t it Ironic”: Remy Rips Feinstein on Spying

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 6 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Okay, admit it: you had to laugh when Senator Diane Feinstein — long one of the Senate’s biggest defenders of NSA spying — was suddenly filled with outrage when she found out that SHE, too, was being spied on. Hey! That’s going too far!

The irony is just too perfect. And who better to point this out than the great liberty-minded comedian Remy?

In this 2-minute video from our friends at Reason TV, Remy updates the Alanis Morissette hit “Isn’t it Ironic” …with Feinstein in mind.

You can read the lyrics here. Laugh along with lines like:

Senator, this may surprise you
and the irony bites
but Congresspeople ain’t the only ones
with 4th Amendment rights

…oh, and we really like the quick dig at the Great Interner, FDR, too.

Share it with friends!

Credits: Written and performed by Remy. Video and animation by Meredith Bragg. Music performed, produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by Ben Karlstrom.

Rand Paul: Who is Running the Government?

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 6 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Even U.S. senators are scared of the run-amok NSA, said Rand Paul on March 19 at the University of California at Berkeley.

Paul, currently running at the front of the pack of GOP presidential hopefuls, won applause and standing ovations for his fiery anti-surveillance-state speech, entitled  “The NSA vs. Your Privacy.”

Some excerpts:

Rand Paul“I am here to tell you…that your rights, especially your rights to privacy, [are] under assault. I’m here to tell you that if you own a cell phone, you’re under surveillance. I’m here to tell you that the NSA believes that equal protection means Americans should be spied upon equally —  including Congress. Instead of equal protection, to them, it’s equal disdain. They don’t care if you’re white or black or brown. They care only that everyone must submit to the state. …

“They’re spying on Congress, they’re collecting our data as well. Digest exactly what that means: if Congress is spied upon without their permission, who exactly is in charge of your government?

“I don’t know about you, but that worries me. If the CIA is spying on Congress, who exactly can or will stop them?

“I look into the eyes of senators and I think I see real fear. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but I think I perceive fear of an intelligence community that’s drunk with power, unrepentant, and uninclined to relinquish power. …

“If you have a cell phone you are under surveillance. I believe what you do on your cell phone is none of their damn business. …

“The Fourth Amendment is very clear. Warrants must be issued by a judge. Warrants must be specific to the individual; must have your name on it if they want your records; and a single warrant for millions of Americans’ phone records hardly sounds specific to the individual. Warrants are supposed to be based on evidence or probable cause. …Generalized warrants that don’t name an individual and seek to get millions of records [go] against the very fabric of the Fourth Amendment. ….

“The FISA court is a court where the defendant gets no attorney; the debate is shrouded in secrecy. In the FISA court, the NSA can say whatever they want and they are not cross-examined.

“A secret court is not a real court. We must take a stand and demand an end to the secret courts. …

“The question before us is: Will we live as men and woman, will we cower, and will we give up on our liberty?”

Paul further said he intends to call for a bi-partisan independent select committee, styled after the 1975 Church Committee that investigated intelligence agencies’ abuses of power, to investigate the explosion of recent surveillance state abuses.

There’s much more in the 20-minute speech, which can be seen here, along with a 20-minute follow-up discussion.

They Said It… With Ron Paul, Antonin Scalia And More

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TAXATION IS CONFISCATION: “The latest scandal in Jay LenoWashington, of course, is raising questions about the IRS. You know, I have a question. Why is it called the Internal Revenue Service? How is having your money confiscated a service?” — Jay Leno May 23, 2013

SOME GOOD FROM TAX SCANDAL: “A Democratic congressman said that he worries that the IRS scandal might have a chilling effect on the IRS and that they might be afraid to audit people. So finally some good is coming out of all of this.” — Jay Leno May 23, 2013

IRS’S VERY JOB IS TO VIOLATE LIBERTY:
Dr. Ron Paul“While it is important for Congress to investigate the most recent scandal and ensure all involved are held accountable, we cannot pretend that the problem is a few bad actors. The very purpose of the IRS is to transfer wealth from one group to another while violating our liberties in the process, thus the only way Congress can protect our freedoms is to repeal the income tax and shutter the doors of the IRS once and for all.” – Ron Paul, “The IRS’s Job Is To Violate Our Liberties,” Texas Straight Talk, May 20, 2013.

DON’T FUND AL-QAEDA: “We should not aid the allies of al-Qaeda in Syria, nor should we be giving weapons to radical extremists who might use them against Syria’s two million Christians.” — Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) arguing against arming Syrian rebel groups allied with Al-Qaeda. See ten-minute Senate video of Paul arguing this before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations here.

CUT GOV’T, END POVERTY: “The Feds spend almost 4 trillion dollars and most people have no clue about what to cut? Well, I have a few ideas. Who needs a Commerce Department? Commerce… just happens. The Education department? Department of Energy? Labor? Cut those too! If we cut government to the limited government the founders had in mind, poverty would become something so rare our kids would have to learn about it in history books.” — libertarian journalist John Stossel, “The Fight Over ‘Austerity,’” May 30, 2013.

Justice Antonin Scalia

SUPREME COURT SAYS NEVER MIND THAT PESKY FOURTH AMENDMENT: “The Fourth Amendment forbids searching a person for evidence of a crime when there is no basis for believing the person is guilty of the crime or is in possession of incriminating evidence. That prohibition is categorical and without exception; it lies at the very heart of the Fourth Amendment. … Make no mistake about it: As an entirely predictable consequence of today’s decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national DNA database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason. …I doubt that the proud men who wrote the charter of our liberties would have been so eager to open their mouths for royal inspection. ” – Justice Antonin Scalia in his dissenting opinion in Maryland v. King, June 3, 2013. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that police can collect DNA from people merely arrested, not convicted of a crime.

THE REAL PURPOSE OF GOV’T SCHOOLS: “The real purpose of public (i.e., government) schooling is to produce good little citizens who defer to the authority of the federal government. Through 12 years of regimentation within an army-lite structure, the minds of people are gradually molded from childhood to trustingly defer to the judgment of federal officials, especially when it comes to things like ‘national security.’” – Jacob G. Hornberger, President of the Future of Freedom Foundation, “An Example of Deference to Authority,” May 31, 2013.

JOBS, WHO NEEDS ‘EM: “President Obama gave the commencement address at Morehouse College over the weekend. Great speech, very inspiring. He told the young graduates their future is bright — unless, of course, they want jobs.” — Jay Leno May 21, 2013.